Until now, most of my blog posts centered around building a writing career amid the demands of a full-time job. Those demands, along with living in an area blessed with endless outdoor activities and the perfect climate for enjoying them, left little time for developing a creative passion. I love inventing plots, designing settings, and writing blog posts. But face it, at the end of a beautiful sunny day during which I have already spent eight hours glued to a monitor in the middle of Cube City the last thing I want to do is go home and stare at another computer. I did some writing, but probably spent equal time outside on my bike, camera and binoculars at the ready while I kept my eyes peeled for photo ops and whatever wonders nature might present. If only I could do this full time! And make a living at it.
Well. . .life happened. Massive changes at my company have resulted in personnel “restructuring” and in three short months I will be free to do as I please. I should have been ecstatic but the news shocked me. It’s one thing to dream, for you can make your fantasies into whatever you wish—but you can’t manipulate reality. On the one hand, I can now pursue my passions full time. On the other hand—well, I think of all the homeless people I’ve seen over the years, remember the riches-to-rags stories I have heard. It happened to them; it could happen to me. Right away I jump into panic mode and hit the online job searches, only to find my skills no longer meet the market’s demands. Life’s sunlit path seems to lead straight into a dark unknown.
Think outside the box. How often have I heard that expression? If I understand the concept correctly, it means approaching a problem from a whole new perspective. I certainly didn’t apply it when I first got the news. Instead of taking a deep breath, allowing myself time to regroup, and then exploring other possibilities, I clawed and kicked, trying to immediately find a comparable position, even though I would rather move on. One of my good friends did exactly that, and I have always admired her. Some time back, she told me she had decided to change careers. She had been a property manager for years and wanted a new direction. Without batting an eye, she took the plunge, working part time as a barista while learning therapeutic massage. Now she is a full time massage therapist in another state—and thoroughly loving it. I, in the meantime, explored courses that help you attain your dream job. While my friend went out and DID it, I expended my energy searching for someone to take me by the hand and lead me down some well-marked path to my goal. When later we compared notes and I told her which course I had settled on, her reaction stunned me. For several seconds she simply stared. Finally she blurted, “Sandy, you don’t need a course. It’s all in the way you think.”
Her words made sense. I had never learned to “think outside the box.” I had made myself dependent on someone else’s success, hoping they would value my contribution enough to keep me on board indefinitely. Rather than daring to develop my own talents and exercise the discipline to turn them into something lucrative, I had made a frustrating but familiar rut my comfort zone and thus imprisoned myself.
I’d like to believe that such a transition might have been easier in an earlier time, but after talking to older people throughout the years I’ve reached the conclusion there is no such thing as “the good old days.” Every decade has its problems. Some people fail during the best of times while others thrive during the worst. Some, depending on their attitude, surmount what seems impossible while others descend into emotional chaos.
Calamity or opportunity? In large part that’s up to me. I am making this an opportunity. I have enough to sustain me for a while. I enjoy good health and have faith in God, along with a network of friends and family to support me. I am ready to embark on this new journey of self-discovery. What am I made of? What will I do? Most definitely I will work, probably harder and longer than I have ever worked in my life, and I will enjoy it because I’ll be doing what my spirit has cried out to do for years. And if I can help someone along the way I will consider myself especially blessed.
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